Archive | December, 2010

Pretty please, United and Chase

30 Dec

Some people have that natural ability to get people to give them what they want. I don’t exactly have that.

I’ve been traveling a lot in the past couple years and have thus become all George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air” over my United miles. I checked my account last night and I am 464 miles away from becoming an Executive Premier member. 464 — that’s less than a flight from Cincinnati to Chicago. I am already a Premier member for hitting 25,000 and have flown 49,536 miles on United during this year. I am so close I can almost taste the unlimited upgrades and three free checked bags. So I decided to call United’s Mileage Plus customer service this morning to sweet talk them into giving me the status. It went something like this:

Me: I am 464 miles away from Premier Executive. Can you please give me the boost up to the next status?
United: No
Me: Come on, pleaseeeeee
United: No
Me: If I have the status I will go out of my way to fly United.
United: We have no promotions going on, you have to wait until January

Those weren’t the exact words said, but close. I mentioned that I took a Virgin Atlantic flight in November which was operated by Air China, a United Star Alliance member, but because it was a Virgin Atlantic plane, they would not give me miles for it. I also mentioned that I have a flight to London in January, but I was getting nowhere. I even called back again, hoping to get a more generous person, then made a fool of myself by giving my same spiel to the same rep I had talked to before. She kept mentioning “promotions” in 2011. I think that means I can “buy” my status. Apparently United does not believe in “gimmes” — at least not for us lowly Premier folk. That, or I just talked to the wrong person … or … I just lack that natural ability to get people to give me what I want.

Still steaming about my miles, I got a letter from Chase today telling me my Free Checking Account is no longer going to be free. The only way to keep it free is to have direct deposit or make five debit card purchases a month, both of which are hard to do when I spend most of my time outside the country. I could march into a Chase branch and threaten to switch to Fifth Third (the stupidest named bank ever), but they would probably just tell me I suck at sweet talking and should call India to straighten it out.

Today is just not my day. At least I had no cavities.

(United and Chase — if you somehow stumbled upon this post, I will write nothing but great things about you in the future if you give me Premier Executive status and a free checking account. I’m not even asking for 1K status or a fancy checking account that gives interest — I just want access to the Red Carpet Lounge and to not pay to keep my money out from under my mattress. Thanks.)

Supper stabbing

28 Dec

Tonight at dinner I stabbed myself in the face. For real. With one of these buggers:

I had one plugged into the stubby end of an ear of corn. I was fiercely gnawing on the sucker but apparently did not have a good grip. The metal holder slipped out, the corn fell onto my plate, and the holder flew right into my cheek with some intense trajectory. So now I have a tiny hole on the side of my face from where I stabbed myself. …While trying to eat corn.

That’s what’s happening in the Blue Grass State today.

Passport and boarding pass, please

23 Dec

It was a week ago that we had our journey through three airports, but I’m finally sitting down to write about it now.

Airport security is in the news a lot lately. People are freaking out about the body scanners and enhanced pat downs. I was prepping myself for the privacy invasion, but it never came — no scanners or pat downs in Heathrow or O’Hare. But that’s not to say security wasn’t out in full force. What I can’t understand is why Heathrow insists on seeing your boarding pass and passport so many times. You have to show both to get into security. I can understand that. But then you also have to show them again after security. The guy actually looked at every single page on my passport. Why was that necessary? And then we got to the gate where I had to show my boarding pass and passport once again — as if they are afraid people who aren’t on that flight might actually sit in that gate’s chairs. They had not one, but two people at the gate look at both my boarding pass and passport. And then because we had a connecting flight we were pulled over for “additional questioning.” The guy asked how long we’d been in the UK and if we were the ones who packed our bags and if anyone had asked us to carry items on board for them. Has any security threat ever been thwarted by asking these questions? They seem a little too obvious. I also can’t help but wonder what they hope to accomplish with all the boarding pass and passport requests — have they had problems with people switching tickets after security? Presenting your boarding pass at security and then a final time right before boarding seems like it should be enough.

That’s just one thing that really grinds my gears about air travel. I feel like I had a lot more to gripe about a week ago, but it’s slipped my mind.

“I go to America!”

20 Dec

I’ve been in the US four days now. I’ve eaten Taco Bell and Graeter’s, met my musical idols and went to Wal-Mart. I’ve also been passing out way too early before I get a chance to write a proper update. Tonight is another one of those nights. Just wanted to let the blogosphere know that I made it back and have some posts in the pipeline, if only I could stay awake to write them.

The importance of being honest

14 Dec

I found £15 in my building’s parking lot on the way home from the store today. (I write about going to the store almost everyday, don’t I?) First I found the fiver, which was the amount of money I spent at Tesco today. I almost kept it, thinking it was some sort of sign. (You know what’s even stranger? Exactly eight months ago I posted about finding $8, which is equivalent to £5. I kept it that time, only to give $20 the next day to a guy I thought really needed it and said he was going to pay me back. He never did.)

Anyway, I was walking towards the back door when I found the tenner. I stood there for a minute having a “What to do, what to do…” moment. I did the obligatory look around and saw no one. But then I remembered the porter was probably watching on camera since it was right in front of the door. Had it been on a public sidewalk, I probably would have kept it, but since it was likely someone in my building who lost it, I decided to do the right thing and take it to the porter. He called me one of the few honest girls around. I wonder if they can rewind the CCTV tape and see who dropped it. Even if they never find the owner, it’ll be a nice Christmas bonus for the porter.

So, universe, I did my good deed for the week. I would appreciate it if you did yours in the form of no snow or any other disaster (flock of geese, drunk pilot) in London, Chicago or Cincinnati on Thursday that would prevent me from flying to the US. If you’re feeling extra generous, I’d also appreciate no snow in Cincinnati on Saturday and Sunday for the Over the Rhine shows, the whole reason I’m heading back to the states a week before Christmas.

Buy more and save!

13 Dec

I was at Tesco Express yesterday checking out next to an American woman. How did I know she was an American? Not only did she argue rudely with the cashier over the price of an item, but she insisted the items were “Four for a dollar.” When the cashier gave her a look, she corrected herself to “Four for a pound,” but still kept complaining. The cashier assured her that the discount would come off after everything was rung up, as it always does, but she wouldn’t shut up about it. I wanted to turn around and say, “Just because I’m American doesn’t mean I’m with (or like) her!”

The incident reminded me about something I’ve been meaning to blog about — British grocery store discounts. As you may know, I’m a big fan of sales. I will often buy something I don’t really need and definitely was not planning on buying just because it is on sale. Like American supermarkets, British stores have a lot of weekly sale items. The problem is they are big on the “Buy more and save!” discount. It’s nice when it’s on something I was planning on buying a lot of, such as yogurt, but not when it’s something big like pop or juice. During my jet lag recovery stage I wanted some caffeinated pop. Almost all the brands were on sale 3 two-liters for £3, which is great, except I only wanted one. I could only carry one. If I had a car and infinite refrigerator space, I would always buy more and save. But in most cases, I can only get one, so I have to pay a slightly higher price. That’s what really grinds my gears about British grocery shopping.

And on a final “stupid American” note, my mind must already think it’s in the states, because on my way to the store today I completely forgot which side of the road people drive on and was nearly hit by a car. Guess that means it’s almost time to visit Amurica!

I’m a convert[er]

10 Dec

I realized a lot of my life lately involves converting — I convert 220 V electricity to 110 V, pounds to dollars and Celsius to Fahrenheit. I’m almost used to the pound — so much so that when I was buying some Christmas presents online to ship to the US I actually converted the dollars to pounds in my head and marveled at how cheap things were. But the thing I can’t seem to get used to is Celsius. Just as I wish I had grown up learning a second language, I wish I had grown up with the metric system. Stephen grew up with it so he knows exactly how to dress for 10 degrees. Me, I’m still multiplying by 1.8 and adding 32. The metric system makes sense for the most part — I can do centimeters and liters. But degrees Celsius gets me every time. A nice autumn day is supposed to be 60 degrees — not 16. Fahrenheit just makes more sense to me, but that’s probably because I grew up with it. It still seems to offer a greater range of temperature.

I remember talking to Kelly, the wife of Stephen’s British coworker, about Chicago weather a couple months back. I was telling her that it’s so cold during the winter that temperatures often dip into the negative. She didn’t seem surprised and said it was often negative during London winters too. That’s when I realized she was talking about negative Celsius. -1 C is 30 F, whereas -1 F is -18 C. I decided not to correct her and let her think that Chicago is 30 (I’m sorry, -1) degrees all winter.

Even though I still get my weather in Fahrenheit from Weather.com (I refuse to switch to Weather.co.uk!), I can’t escape the dreaded C. It’s everywhere in our flat — the thermostat, the washing machine, my curling iron. There’s no “cold” or “hot” cycles on the washing machine, there’s 90, 60, 40 and 30 (none of which seem cold, come to think of it). The temperatures on my curling iron (“tongs”) are not high, medium, low or 1 through 10, they are 165, 180, 195 and 210. That’s 329, 356, 383 and 410 degrees F for you American folk. Come to think of it, that is a lot of heat I’m putting so close to my face! Do American curling irons get as hot as an oven? (Which, by the way, is in Celsius too. I’d be writing more about that if I ever bothered to use it.)